Tag Archives: novels

The Horror!

This may be blasphemy to the Horror genre, but I hate what it is anymore. The classical horror of the Victorian era let the imagination of the reader fill in the blanks allowing for more “horror” than bombarding people with gore. Yes, I know, death is a part of the genre, but in recent decades, death and gore isn’t a consequence, but the point of the story instead. In fact, story takes a back seat to gore and death for much of horror. I would like to challenge people to see the beauty in classical horror.

The setting is a rarely traveled part of the world, perhaps the woods, and there is either a killer or monster lurking. Unfortunately, a group of stupid college students go in that region and get picked off one by one in terrible and gruesome ways. This is the sort of thing that passes as horror anymore, with few exceptions. I enjoy tales of werewolves, in fact my upcoming book will include them, but gaining inspiration was pretty challenging because there are very few quality werewolf stories out there.

I enjoy stories that are based around suspense and unknown with supernatural elements. This is what horror used to be. It isn’t just horror that has changed, fantasy has grown darker and grittier. Dark and gritty isn’t inherently, bad but both modern fantasy and horror have grown incredibly cynical in their messages. In horror most of the time everyone dies brutally, life is cheep, and it seems fantasy is adopting that approach as well. Why is that? Storytelling tends to follow cultural trends, have some genre fiction stories gotten darker, horror much earlier than others, due to an increasingly cynical outlook on life? Is it due to changing tastes that accompany an evolving culture? What if storytellers focused on plot and character development over pushing boundaries instead? At this point it is hard to imagine any boundary that hasn’t been pushed anyway, perhaps all of us who craft stories need to examine why we write them and what is their purpose.

Writing Lull

I wrapped up my manuscript last week, and now I have three books to edit. That means, writing books is on hold, and editing needs to take priority.

It is strange when I’m between writing books. While working on manuscripts, the stories become like old friends to me. I immerse myself so much into the stories that it is almost jarring when the initial writing is finished, leaving a void. However, it is always relieving to finish the first draft of a book.

Editing though is not something I particularly enjoy. Sure, I could leave the bulk of it for my editor, but then how could I learn to improve myself? My editor is also very busy and I want to make my projects as easy for her as possible. That doesn’t make the process easier or more fun. Editing is tedious, and requires intense attention, which makes it more challenging for me to do a good job without taking frequent breaks.

In the meantime, I am thinking about what to write next. Should I write a science fiction novel? Should I write the final novel in the Goandria series? I hope to have an answer within a week.

4 Things I Learned from Writing Fantasy

1. People say they want originality, but not too much. 

How often do we see articles or hear in conversations that people want originality? No one wants to read a carbon copy of another story, obviously. When that happens, it is simply lazy and not worth the effort to read. However, originality is a tricky thing because most people approach genres with certain expectations. If those expectations are not met the end result could be a turn off to the intended audience. This isn’t always true, as I will address later on in the list, because while people are wanting familiarity, the Fantasy genre is changing. There are certain unspoken parameters of Fantasy that people expect, while at the same time demanding originality. How many Fantasy books written since Tolkien’s works have included elves, dwarves, and humans? Most, save for very recently. How often are elves portrayed as extremely beautiful and immortal or at minimum long-lived? Almost always. How often are Dwarves portrayed as greedy people with Scottish accents? Almost always. There isn’t anything wrong with including these things, but it goes to show that there is a lot of familiarity in Fantasy and most readers have come to expect this.

2. I cannot please everyone.

This is rather obvious and straight-forward. However, the truth is writers want their stuff to be liked. We wouldn’t do what we do, work as hard as we do, if only to expect most people to hate what we write. No matter how well the book is written, or how hard we work on it, someone will hate it. Someone will inevitably write a lukewarm or negative review and the temptation to let that crush us is great because we put so much time and money into our books. Yet, like anything in the arts, rejection is a part of it, in fact it is a necessity.

3. What’s popular isn’t necessarily what I like.

The popular trend in Fantasy lately is dark, gritty, with cynical undertones. I can appreciate some stories that take this approach, and I have even enjoyed them. Yet, I tend to enjoy the more traditional Fantasy of good versus evil and the triumph of darkness. Good doesn’t have to always win in every story though, but like everything in writing here must be a purpose to good losing. This direction of Fantasy isn’t what I grew to love about the genre. I know the purpose for the dark and gritty tales with characters dropping like flies is intended to be more realistic, yet personally I see enough evil in the world. That doesn’t mean the stories I read and write are always rainbows and sunshine, but what I am saying is that I don’t try to overwhelm my audience with darkness and gloom. I try to attract people who might read the Shannara books, or Tolkien more than GOT.

4. Selling books is harder than writing them.

Convincing strangers who never heard of you to buy your books is far more difficult than it is to write a book. With time and patience, a writer can finish a book and with editing and revising the story can become solid and publishable. Selling the book takes even more patience and a different type of creativity. Discovering one’s audience and placing the book in front of them is a constantly evolving process. On top of all that, generally it takes years to become established as an author and that is if you did everything correctly combined with factors outside of your control such as luck.

More observations (Offended Pt. 2)

20121121_180113000_iosWe live in an emotionally charged world.  Ideology is shifting greatly in America and at an exponential rate.  What the people held to be true three years ago, is now questioned.  People are inevitably upset and demand change, while others want to silence voices that disagree.

As a writer seeing this stuff happen it makes me wonder how much of Fahrenheit 451 might come to pass.  I’ve written quite a bit on how easily offended we have become as a culture, but the issue has deepened.  Opposite sides of believes often don’t even want to hear each other.  People who disagree are now deemed evil, whereas once upon a time both parties might have been able to understand they don’t see the world the same and leave it at that.

Now if there is information that people disagree with there are “safe places” in colleges.  There is an ever-growing push to not offend, while on the other hand some take that as a license to be unapologetically offensive.  Offending or being offensive is now the worst thing someone can do, and some call for those voices to be silenced and it is already happening.  Look no matter where your beliefs fall, you have a right to be offended, and someone else has a right to be offensive.  That’s how a free society works.  The reason for this is “offensive” is relative.  What you are offended by isn’t offensive to your neighbor and so forth.  Of course, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some limits on speech, such as threats of bodily harm.  When we get to the point in society where we cannot tolerate being offended is when things like art become repressed.  Will we get to a point that art is banned or books like in Fahrenheit 451?  Maybe not, but extreme censorship is not that farfetched.  Despite cultural swings, a writer never panders and never censors.  It is the job of the author to tell the story as it is, no matter how uncomfortable.  That also includes being true to the characters, and once again, not pander to cultural leanings.

It is interesting times we live in.  Will we continue to have thinner skin in our culture as time progresses?  Will we push the government to silence voices that hurt our feelings?  Will we rise above this and realize that being offended is subjective and a choice?  Time will tell.